More passport offices to open at malls: DFA
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will open at least 11 more consular offices in shopping malls around the country before the end of the year, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said.
On Monday, del Rosario inaugurated the the new DFA consular office at Ayala Land's MarQuee Mall in Angeles City. The new office can accommodate at least 500 passport applicants daily. This is the third mall-based consular facility in the country, following Pacific Mall in Cebu and Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando.
"Before the end of the year, we will have at least 14 mall-based passport offices serving the public in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. By 2014, we should have 30 such facilities operating in shopping malls across the country," he said.
The mall-based consular offices will process passport applications from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, and will be open half-days on Sundays to allow applicants to claim their passports.
Del Rosario said the mall-based passport offices are the result of a public-private partnership agreements between the DFA and mall operators Pacific Mall Corporation, Robinsons Land Corporation, Ayala Land Incorporated and SM Prime Holdings.
"Our PPPs with our partners not only allowed the Department to provide much-needed comfort and convenience to passport applicants but also saved for the national government an initial P1.14 billion in operating costs over the next 10 years," he said.
The DFA is planning to open the 11 consular offices in the following malls: Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Lipa, Robinsons Bacolod, Robinsons Dumaguete, Robinsons General Santos, SM Megamall, SM Manila, SM Baguio, SM Davao, Pacific Mall Legazpi and Metro Gaisano Alabang.
Del Rosario said passport offices will also open in Laoag, Batangas, Iloilo, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Butuan and Cagayan de Oro before 2014.
"Last month, I approved a new set of guidelines that would allow us to further improve the delivery of services. By December, we hope to put in place a dedicated call center that would allow applicants to schedule the time and day they prefer to be served at any of our consular locations in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. With this, we hope to finally be able to deal with the long lines that have become synonymous with the passport application process," he said.
At the same time, del Rosario received the Citizen’s Satisfaction Center Seal of Excellence Award from Civil Service Commission chairman Francisco Duque III for the excellent satisfaction rating obtained by the DFA Clark Satellite Office, now DFA Angeles.